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Jazz Fest to Return to New Orleans

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is expected to return next year in spite of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Randy Philips of AEG Live, a co-producer of the Jazz Fest, told that he is uncertain where, how and with what infrastructure the event will take place, but is certain it will all work out.

The Jazz Fest in 2006 may be held in New Orleans, but that depends on the progress made in the city following the hurricane, says Philips, or it will be in a nearby market like Baton Rouge. The festival normally takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course, a short distance from the French Quarter.

Jazz enthusiast and organizer George Wein was the mastermind behind the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that first took place in 1970. Mahalia Jackson sang along unexpectedly with the Eureka Brass Band, which was winding around Congo Square, igniting the spirit of the Jazz Fest. At the first festival, only about 350 people attended but every year afterward, the audience has expanded significantly. Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, the Preservation Hall Band, the Meters, Clifton Chenier, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, the Olympic Brass Band and Mardi Gras Indians, were among the performers at the first Jazz Fest.

In 2001, the festival celebrated Louis Armstrong’s centennial and the festival welcomed an unprecedented 650,000 attendees. Since 1970, the original five-day event has expanded to ten days of food, crafts and twelve stages of music.

Originally Published